Thursday, May 20, 2010
Armstrong out of Tour of California
ESPN.com news services
VISALIA, Calif. -- Lance Armstrong crashed during the Tour of California on Thursday, sending him to the hospital for precautionary X-rays on the day he was accused of doping by former teammate Floyd Landis.
The cyclists were on a two-lane road outside Visalia a few miles into the race when a rider in the main group skidded on some gravel and fell, causing others, including Armstrong, to crash. Armstrong resumed riding but had to quit the race because of his injuries.
"I tried to give it a go but my eye was swollen so I couldn't see properly and the pain in the elbow prevented me from holding the bars for the remainder of the stage," Armstrong said. "It was a relief to learn there were no breaks. I will take a few days to recover and be on the bike as soon as possible."
Michael Rogers of Australia moved into the overall lead with his second-place finish in the 121.5-mile fifth stage that ran from Visalia to Bakersfield. Dave Zabriskie was third in the stage and second overall.
"Obviously, I woke up this morning and heard the news like everybody else did," Rogers said of Landis' accusations. "I came here to win this race, and that's what I concentrated on during the race. I didn't think of anything else but." Armstrong strongly denied the accusations.
Levi Leipheimer, the three-time defending race titlist, is third in the standings, trailing by 10 seconds. Armstrong's Radio Shack teammate also was accused by Landis of doping.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia won the stage in 4 hours, 52 minutes and 58 seconds, and is fourth, 15 seconds back.
Team spokesman Philippe Maertens said Armstrong was evaluated in the team bus by doctors who gave him eight stitches below his left eye. Armstrong then was taken to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital for precautionary X-rays, which were negative.
|A bloodied Lance Armstrong is helped up after crashing in the Tour of California.|
The timing of Landis' allegations -- right in the middle of the Tour of California -- did not go unnoticed. Radio Shack manager Johan Bruyneel, implicated by Landis, suggested that the reason the dethroned 2006 Tour champion made his allegations now is because his team was not allowed to ride in the Tour of California. "He saw all the doors are closed ... His timing is obviously not a coincidence."
Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports that owns the Tour, said that the ToC welcomed Landis last year when his suspension from cycling ended but that his new team didn't warrant an invite this year. "Floyd thought it was personal. He thought he was being punished. And he did what he did. Whether there is a link there, that's a question to ask Floyd."
Asked whether Landis threatened to go public with his allegations if his team was not invited, Messick said, "He didn't, but we all listen to the chatter. It's other people who call you and tell you stuff. But Floyd never said it."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.